Will The Real 3801 Please Stand Up

What Is The True Colour Of This Iconic Loco?

When I started my career as a railway enthusiast, 3801 was considered to be the ultimate machine, or at least in NSW.

Built in 1943, this streamlined Pacific was withdrawn from normal duties in 1967, and from that time rarely hauled regular trains.

While I haven’t seen this loco for some time, I have seen disturbing pictures indicating the colour of this engine is more like something out of a comic book than a real steam loco.

This colour green looks a bit sickly to me, what do you think?

My earliest colour shot of 3801 was taken at Moss Vale in the mid 1960s. You can tell it is an earlier shot as there is no knuckle coupler on the front. This was fitted for the run to Perth in 1970 on the Western Endeavour.

The Western Endeavour near Blackheath in 1970 heading west.

Now for my shot taken before this time. We were on a tour with 3526 and 2705 that had been to Hill Top and the Thirlmere loop long before Trainworks was established. Perhaps someone can fill us in on the exact date.

3801 Without Knuckle Coupler Moss Vale Mid 1960s.

After the Perth run, 3801 spent 3 days on the short north hauling Newcastle Flyers and other trains between Gosford and Newcastle. Here is a picture from that time.

3801 at Broadmeadow in December 1970 on an all stations train from Gosford

So, there you have it. To my eye, the earlier shot with the manual coupler has the same colour scheme as that of the Perth days.

Stop Press

While reviewing “Lenses South” I came across an old photo of 3801 in olive green. Can someone tell me if this was the original green for 3801?


The question is, are the more recent photos I am finding really that much of an iridescent green, or is it just the colour in the images?

Let us know. In the meantime here is another more recent photo.

I can’t help it, bu these days it looks more like a toy! Regardless, it would be great to see it running again.

Here is a video of 3801 in 2005 “Ghastly Green”.


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